Sunday, April 08, 2007

Backlash on Chesil Beach

Our national living literary treasure Ian McEwan has long remained gracefully dignified in the face of various moronic allegations of plagiarism. However, Natasha Walter's Guardian review of his new book On Chesil Beach obviously got to him in a big way.

However, unlike Jeanette Winterson, who famously and magnificently turned up on the doorstep of a disagreeable critic (in the middle of a dinner-party), McEwan has restricted himself to a critic slap-down on The Guardian's letters page:

" . . . she reported that my views about the peace movement stuck in her throat.

. . . I accept that being forgiven by critics is an occupational hazard, but just for the record and Ms Walter's throat, perhaps I could set this matter straight. When she was still at her primary school I was campaigning, writing and speaking against nuclear weapons. I was a member of European Nuclear Disarmament . . . "

His letter builds up to a thrilling climax:

"I sometimes wonder whether these common critical confusions arise unconsciously from a prevailing atmosphere of empowering consumerism - the exaltation of the subjective, the "not in my name" syndrome. It certainly seems odd to me that such simple precepts need pointing up: your not "liking" the characters is not the same as your not liking the book; you don't have to think the central character is nice; the views of the characters don't have to be yours, and are not necessarily those of the author; a novel is not always all about you."

Take that, Natasha! Oops! Oh, the shame.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wow. I think he did go a bit overboard toward the end... and he sort of undermined his own characterization of the peace movement by defensively pointing out he was part of it. Dommage.